I first started writing The Last Christmas Card in the winter of 2009 – just now wrapping things up where publishing is concerned. Fourteen years passed with the manuscript securely digitized on an antique floppy disc, including being stored upstairs in my noggin during that time. Not sure if I wanted to complete the tale, my wife persuaded me into doing so one year ago after she read several of the book’s beginning chapters.
Always knowing where I wanted to start and end this tale, yet not having a specific town where things were supposed to take place was a major problem. Visiting Council Grove, Kansas, in 2015, I found that location to be picture perfect.
For those having never been there, Council Grove is akin to an oasis in the prairie, first discovered by American Indians going far back in America’s history. An abundance of water was a magnet to wildlife of all type, with the indigenous natives following them. Starting in the mid 1800s, Council Grove became a major stopping point on the Santa Fe Trail. Now a major tourist attraction, “Hay’s Last Stop Store” built in 1850 still stands.
Many of the events in my book are ones that I played a role in, with other family members and friends doing the same. The Atlas missile silo mentioned is approximately one mile from my wife’s Uncle Lee and Aunt Joanne Mills’ farm. Joleen’s cousins, Randy and Larry Mills, took me there in 1975.
A humorous horseback ride talked about in the story chronicles one that my family, including Uncle Noel and Aunt Gay, with cousins, Randall and Cheryl McDaniel, went on in 1964, at Buffalo Lake in Lubbock, Texas.
The 1860s limestone house is exactly like one in Manhattan, Kansas, that my wife and I were prepared to purchase, at least I was, but didn’t for unusual reasons, one of them being the home sat on Rural Road 911. A 1941 Willys pickup truck which is a key part of the story is a takeoff from a 1938 Willys that Joleen’s brother, Calvin, owns.
The “Freedmen” Cemetery mentioned, is in the same town, Dunlap, Kansas, where my wife’s father, Herman Freeman, was an elementary school principal for several years.
I could go on and on but won’t. Palmetto Publishing is wrapping things up, with the anticipated release date – April 2023.